Narrated in a straightforward, often conversational prose, O’Neill’s account of his life story brings out two outstanding qualities: his positive attitude and his commitment to working hard. Despite setbacks, he moves forward relentlessly, both in living life and in telling the story. He exhibits little regretful or dwelling upon the past, whether about wrong decisions, injuries, or disruptions due to reasons outside his control. He takes stock, evaluates his resources and moves forward with determination, never shy of working hard. His upbeat, get-it-done attitude, the hallmark of a coach, remains the same even when it comes to fighting cancer.
Another heartening element of Don’t Back Down is the love story at its heart, as O’Neill frequently acknowledges that he is extremely lucky to have found a soul mate in Beth. Without an understanding and supportive spouse, his life’s most dramatic transitions—from a highly paid corporate job to following his dream into the comparatively lower paid job of a teacher—would not have been possible. Disappointingly, the narrative does not describe the transformative process of slowing down post diagnosis even while the author admits that both he and his wife have lived life in the fast lane. Though heavy on coaching jargon, O’Neill’s memoir is an inspiring, fast-paced memoir as exciting as a tightly contested game.
Takeaway: Inspiring memoir of high school football coach’s fight against cancer.
Comparable Titles: Edward Ulloa’s 27: A Football Coach’s Memoir, Michael DiMatteo’s Confessions of a High School Football Coach.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A